Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Payless ShoeSource Distributes Shoes to Children in Need this Holiday Season


TOPEKA, Kan. — Leading family footwear retailer, Payless ShoeSource, announced the expansion of Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids to include other countries in the Western Hemisphere. The program is aimed at delivering more than $1.2 million worth of free shoes to children of families in need this holiday season.

Through a network of charity partners, Payless will distribute more than 77,000 gift coupons redeemable through Feb. 28, 2010, toward a new pair of kids' shoes at any of its stores located in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and in 10 Latin American countries including the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Tobago, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia.

"In America the economy appears to be on the mend, but times are still difficult on Main Street and the economic challenges are rippling across the globe," said Matthew E. Rubel, Chairman and CEO of Collective Brands, Inc. (the parent company for Payless ShoeSource). "Footwear is a basic need that many of us take for granted, and yet a significant number of children need shoes. In a difficult economy, the underprivileged are hurt more than any other group and the charities that assist them are often underfunded. That's why we are expanding our Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program to Canada, Puerto Rico, and our Latin American countries and calling on charity partners again this year to help us establish an extending network to get the gift of shoes to children that need it the most this holiday season."

Partnering with local charities offers a grass roots approach — an important element of the program. It allows Payless to effectively reach children that need shoes; it also ensures widespread and diverse coverage in urban and rural areas, as well as assist non-profits during the economic downturn as many charities, especially the small to medium sized organizations, are experiencing reduced giving among contributors.

Non-profit organizations based in the United States and Canada interested in Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids can apply online by completing a short application. Core selection criteria includes a mission to serve children and families in the local area, direct access to underprivileged children in local communities to distribute the coupons by Dec. 24, and close proximity to Payless stores. Additional requirements call for non-profit organizations in the U.S. to have Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3) status; Canadian charities must be registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency. The application process for non-profit partners of the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program ends Oct. 30.

All selected partners will be notified and the shoe gift coupons will be distributed in various quantities based on the number of constituents served. Payless will select as many well-suited nonprofits as possible to partner in the program.

Studies show that properly fitting shoes can enhance self confidence in children and aid in their proper development and growth. As well, with rising unemployment and food costs, it is difficult for parents to cover basic needs, thus making the holidays an even more stressful time for struggling families.

"A great pair of shoes can lift spirits, bolster self esteem and, as we witnessed first-hand when we launched the program last year, bring a huge smile to a child's face," said LuAnn Via, CEO of Payless. "We are thrilled to expand this important holiday giving campaign to the majority of our chains and to reach deeper into the communities in which we operate to give this holiday gift to children. We hope to take one concern off parents' plates for tens of thousands of families this holiday season."

Last year, Payless launched Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids by partnering with localized non-profit partners throughout America to join in the giving campaign. More than 630 non-profit partners in 50 states and the District of Columbia joined Payless to deliver $1 million worth of free shoes to children of families in need across America. Please visit Payless Gives facebook for updates and photos on this year's program.

Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids provides the company with an opportunity to invest in the communities it serves. Nonprofits will certainly be struggling this year as the funding is scarce and the need continues to increase. Encourage local nonprofits to get involved in the program, so that more children will have shoes this holiday season. I know a great pair of shoes certainly lifts my spirits.

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